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RC: Re: Clicker Training

What a great topic!
A few years ago i discovered clicker training, just before we got our dog, a
Bullmastiff.  We knew he was going to be big and strong, and I wanted a well
behaved dog, so I clicker trained him since he was 8 weeks old.  He caught
on so fast.  It is a great method, because you don't have to use punishment
(except rarely) you are using positive reinforcement.  Bo (dog) knows about
25-30 commands and he performs all his tasks with such enthusiasm.

The clicker is great because it is a very precise marker.  When we took Bo
to Clicker kindergarten and teen class, there were about 10 dogs in each
class, and each dog knew exactly which click was from his handler and we
didn't have a problem with mass confusion.

I haven't used a real clicker with my horse, but I do use  a verbal 'good'
and then reward her with bits of carrot or horse cookies.  It was  very
helpful teaching her to load in a two horse straight trailer (after she had
been terrorized by some stupid people who tried to use brute force),  it
helped her behave better for the farrier  (a relaxed head down, standing
still was my target behaviour here), it also helped her become more
confident going thru puddles and over obstacles like trees and stuff.  Most
recently i used this method to help Saffy get thru her terrible tail
troubles, where I had to wrap her tail everyday till it healed up and it was
extremely painful for her.  She gets rewarded during the wrapping for
standing still and being calm, if she starts to stuggle i give her a verbal

The funny thing is, while we are out riding she has become conditioned to
the sound of zippers and velcro, as a treat indicator.  Actually , now that
I think of it, I am going to use this to work on a fast whoa.  This should
be fun.

anyways, I encourage my fellow endurance riders to experiment with positive
reinforcement, it has a lot of benefits and builds a close working
relationship between you and your horse.

Alexandra Kurland is a pioneer with clicker training for horses.  Here is
the site, it is really well done.  Go see what a clicker trained horse can


Sarah McIntosh & Saffy
Abbotsford, BC

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